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Saint Afra

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Saint Afra
Heilige Afra.jpg
Saint Afra, by the Master of Messkirch, ca. 1535-1540
Born Unknown, Augsburg, Rhætia
Died c. 304
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Major shrine St. Ulrich's and St. Afra's Abbey, Augsburg
Feast August 5 (sometimes listed as August 6, August 7)
Attributes depicted being burnt to death
Patronage Augsburg; converts; martyrs; penitent women

Saint Afra (died 304) was a Christian martyr. Her actual existence is not mentioned until the 5th century martyrologies, giving her dubious historicity.


Template:Unreliable sources

Although many different accounts of her life exist, the most widely known is that of an unreliable Carolingian version, the Acts of St Afra, set down many centuries later. According to this source, she was originally a courtesan in Augsburg, having come there from Cyprus, maybe even as the daughter of the King of Cyprus. She is reputed to either run a brothel in that town, or work as a prostitute in the Temple of Venus. As the persecution of Christians during the reign of Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian began, Bishop Narcissus of Girona (in Spain) arrived there and lodged with Afra and her mother, Hilaria. The bishop did not know their profession, but soon converted them. She continued to hide the bishop from the authorities, but was arrested, and condemned to be burnt to death. Her mother and her maids Ligna, Eunonia and Eutropia later suffered the same fate, for interring her in a burial vault.

In an alternative, and earlier document, it is stated that she was beheaded, rather than burnt. The Martyrologium Hieronymianum (a compilation of martyrs) mentions Afra as having "suffered in the city of Augsburg" and as being "buried there".


The feast of Saint Afra occurs on 5 August (although according to some missals it is on 6 August or 7 August). To this day, her remains are kept in St. Ulrich's and St. Afra's Abbey, Augsburg, having first been displayed there in 1012.

Her cult was widespread in Bavaria, and the town of Täferrot takes its name from her.[1]


External links

This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public Afra

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